The First Amendment Encyclopedia

Presented by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies

Case Categories: Civil Rights Movement and the First Amendment

The First Amendment proved to be a crucial tool for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, as ministers preached, protesters marched, organizations litigated, advocates petitioned, and the press reported on racial discrimination.

The expressive actions of protesters and activists also led to the considerable growth of First Amendment precedent. The movement witnessed such an expansion of free expression principles through First Amendment cases that scholar Harry Kalven Jr. wrote, “We may come to see the Negro as winning back for us the freedoms the Communists seemed to have lost for us.”

Below is a list of Supreme Court cases involving First Amendment rights related to the Civil Rights Movement. 

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